Ah. Sunscreen-scented days and nights spent cuddling over a good book, a soundtrack of ocean waves and kids’ laughter playing in the background. Nothing beats a summer road trip to the beach — a much-anticipated outing for so many families that can only be enhanced by tossing a few choice travel goods into the back of the car.
Stake your claim to a stretch of sand with the BeachBUB All-In-One Beach Umbrella System ($139.85) in beautiful Caribbean blue. BeachBUB is a snap to set up: Insert the pole upright through the Build-A-Base; attach two wings of the Build-A-Base to form a pouch and fill with sand; attach the third wing and top off with sand; stuff sand against the sides for stability. Voila! Cooling shade and sun protection.
BeachBUB comes complete with durable and lightweight umbrella, Build-A-Base, sturdy oversized carry bag, sand scoop shovel, towel hook and a Sand Gopher Tool to help create a compact hole to easily push the pole into the sand. The whole beach-ready kit and kaboodle is very manageable and weighs less than 10 pounds. No need to bake in the sun or rent an umbrella. Base colors include yellow, blue and green. BeachBUB is available at www.beachBUB.com (where you can watch a how-to video) and other online outlets. (www.beachbub.com)
You’ve created a comfy shelter from the sun’s bright rays with BeachBUB; now add a piece of luxury with a sand-free beach mat. It’s paradise found with the patented SANDLITE Mat ($49.99), a soft and undeniably comfortable woven mat that stays sand-free. It may look just like any other towel or picnic blanket spread out on the beach, but it won’t get all gritty with sand, nor will it fly up with a good wind, whipping sand all over your lotioned-up legs.
Spill your tall cool one? No worries. The liquid will bead on the mat's surface and wipe off easily. Sand doesn't hide in the folds of the mat, either, so you won't drag sand home with you. Offered in a variety of summer-fun colors and patterns, the SANDLITE Mat is quick-drying and lightweight, and it folds neatly into a small carry bag. (www.cgear-sandfree.com)
Capture all the fun of a beach getaway with the Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Print Digital Camera with Touchscreen Display ($179). Point, shoot, print, share: Smudge-proof 2-by-3-inch s prints are ready in under a minute, thanks to the miracle of ZINK zero ink print technology. Pics can be posted to most surfaces with peel-back adhesive paper and also saved to the Snap Touch for uploading to computer and social media platforms.
No digital screens, convoluted menus or sluggish uploads to deal with. Peer through the viewfinder, snap the button, have print in hand. Blending the nostalgia of the old Polaroid Instamatic with a tech-savvy instant-print digital camera, the Snap Touch lets you take selfies with a built-in selfie mirror and group shots with a self-timer feature.
Download the free Polaroid mobile app and have fun creating with access to stickers, filters, borders and endless (and easy) photo editing options. Best of all: No computer connections are needed. You simply send photos to a smartphone via Bluetooth connectivity. It is all the fun of a photo booth, but in a compact size that tucks neatly into purse or pocket. (www.meetpolaroid.com)
Pack a book or, in this case, a book series the whole family can get engrossed in to pass the time in the car, on the beach or before bedtime. The Nocturnals is a critically acclaimed series that introduces three animal pals — Dawn the fox, Bismark the sugar glider and Tobin the pangolin — and their many adventures, plus enough plot twists to keep everybody hooked through all four books: “The Mysterious Abductions,” “The Ominous Eye,” “The Fallen Star” and “The Hidden Kingdom” ($15.99/each).
Authors Tracey Hecht and Sarah Fieber have created a nighttime landscape filled with strange and mysterious happenings, danger and drama, and humor (and cliffhangers) aplenty, as the unlikely and endearing trio test their mettle against disappearing animals, giant beasts, poisoned fruit and vanishing watering holes.
But the fun doesn't stop when the books are closed; there is an entire summer reading kit, all based on the characters in The Nocturnals' series and perfect for middle grade readers and younger siblings, that extends reading fun to games and activities, including word searches, matching games, face painting and other arts and crafts, and more. (Parents can even sneak in some science with projects, like building a volcano and playing bingo using fun facts about animals and endangered species.) The kit is found on The Nocturnals' website. (www.nocturnalsworld.com)